Why I installed solar panels on my garage door

Ever wondered how much power your garage door uses? The technology behind automatic garage doors is such that they don’t consume a lot of energy to open and close, but they are always powered, and therefore account for significant consumption in “idle” mode. The average garage door uses three to five times more energy in idle mode than in the few minutes per day when you open and close it.

Like any electrical appliance that receives signals from a remote control device, even when not in use, it is still warm, still humming, waiting for the radio signal that tells it to spring into action. It’s a type of electrical draw called a “phantom load”.

Back in 2002 Cornell University’s Mark Pierce estimated the overall utility cost incurred through phantom loads to be $200 a year per house; however more recent estimates place the figure at around $40-$70, or 329-569 kWh per year. This phantom load effect, according to a web page run by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory accounts for 5-10% of residential power bills in most developed countries.

Should I worry about my garage door openers’ phantom load?

According to LBNL, the average phantom load in U.S homes is growing, thanks to an increase in number of new appliances that draw power- and that’s not likely to stop; but we could do more to regulate power consumption. Garage doors openers are invaluable, especially to the elderly and the handicapped, so they cannot be counted out; and luckily there is an effective solution here for the excessive power consumption.

Solar Powered Garage Door Openers

Solar Powered Garage Door OpenersMajor manufacturers now offer garage door models that come equipped with a solar setup, complete with a backup battery. These types of openers operate with DC motors and can be connected to a small PV panel- which charges the unit battery- and can be trusted to function perfectly through any stretch of bad weather, if you purchase a larger battery and wire it parallel to the factory-supplied battery.

It should be mentioned that our grandparents didn’t have garage door openers, and had to get out of their cars or dismount their horses to open the door. It was a good type of daily exercise- definitely helped kept them strong and fit.